My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE STRENGTH OF GOD IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS
(Source: Consoler of Suffering Hearts. The Life, Counsels and Miracles of Eldress (Gerondissa) Rachel, Visionary of Russia)
[Who was Eldress (Gerondissa) Rachel? A great ascetic in the tradition of The Way of a Pilgrim. Eldress Rachel wandered for many years all over Russia, barefoot, praying all the while. She finally settled in Borodino Monastery, where she lived for over fifty years, up until her death in 1928.
In the last years of her long life, Eldress Rachel was vouchsafed the gift of prophecy, seeing into the hearts of those who came to her for guidance. Having a direct relationship with God and His Most Pure Mother, she beheld many heavenly visions and had many Divine visitations.
Mother Rachel became for the Russian people a quick consoler and true directress. She saw much sorrow and suffering, and dried countless tears through her loving words of counsel.
A miracle-worker in her own time. Eldress Rachel continues her miraculous intercession after her death. In July of 1996 she was locally glorified as a Saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.]
Now we will observe one day in the life of Saint Rachel and how she received her visitors which numbered a great multitude. In the last years of the Eldress' life, a large number of visitors arrived on foot and by train from different cities, villages and rural areas, and even from very remote places.
Some visitors she received individually in her cell, and some in the corridor. If they asked, or if there were some need, she received some individually, but most often she received all together, or in little groups. The people would openly state their needs before all--sorrows, fear uncertainties and perplexities. At the same time, they told about their sins, vices and passions. Mother Rachel would listen and pray for all, giving them advice and words of instruction.
From morning till night Mother Rachel's tiny cell was crowded with pilgrims. Here, sitting around the table, were men, women and children, the poor and the rich. Mother Rachel endeavored to serve everyone, yet in her final years she was little able to do this...
She was a grace-filled Eldress, who openly read thoughts of her visitors. Frequently without waiting for their questions and without listening to them, she would give them clear and precise directions and answers to their thoughts. Sometimes it happened that Mother Rachel did not accept certain people; she refused to receive them. These were not pilgrims, but people arriving by chance in Borodino because it was fashionable. They came out of curiosity, without any need, indifferently, and in them Mother Rachel did not see the time for their spiritual rebirth...
Many would later relate: "After the meeting with Mother Rachel, I saw only light, and only then did I begin to live. I feel that I am completely reborn, changed. Where is my unbelief, my pride, arrogance, self-love?
What this family experienced at this moment is difficult to describe. Streams of tears would pour down their cheeks. They sensed and acknowledged that after the rebirth of a member of their family the longed-for peace would settle in their home, there would be oneness instead of dissension, and God's blessing. Sensing all this beforehand they, too, would fall to their knees before Mother Rachel, in her especially penetrating voice and inspired with great faith, would passionately begin a bold prayer for the entire family. She began to pray, most often like this: "Mother of God, thou, thyself dost see the warm tears of these good people; direct their life unto good. Strengthen in them faith in thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Warm them with love towards one another and towards their neighbors. O, Mother of God, do thou, thyself bless them with thy All-Powerful right hand, and not with my mortal hand, as thou thyself didst promise me..."
In general, all these receptions, good wishes, and blessings of Mother Rachel were rather like a spiritual clinic for the sorrowing, like a spiritual home of rest for suffering people. This is why many who revered the Eldress considered it a pleasant duty to visit the Borodino Monastery of the Savior from time to time, to come to Mother Rachel and receive from her blessings, advice and edification. Many already were accustomed to counseling with her, and even unimportant tasks were not undertaken without her blessing. After these receptions, when many people experienced moments of self-reproach and self-abasement, when in her cell a presence was felt of the special grace of God, of the presence of the Mother of God herself, all would endeavor, even if only for a time, to be better, purer, and more considerate and loving towards their neighbors. This interior spiritual renewal, this walking in newness of life according to the words of the Apostle in Romans 6:4, was the primary thing received from a meeting with Mother Rachel. The profit from this reception was so great, that its fruit is impossible to measure. I know well by experience and from many observations that renewed people served as an example to other people and helped them to stand on the path or repentance. Here clearly the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to the Apostles came to pass: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven" (St. Matthew 5:16). Not without purpose did Mother Rachel always demand distinct and thoughtful reading of the Lord's Prayer, and particularly these words, "hallowed be Thy name" (St. Matthew 6:9)...
Mother Rachel had many visitors and, seeing their sinfulness, she would send them to church and would propose to them in a gentle and affectionate way that they should prepare to cleanse their conscience in the sacrament of Confession while in the monastery. Almost everyone would agree. She had the ability, through the grace of God, to see and know by inward enlightenment how much someone confessed with a pure heart and grieved over his sins and who approached the holy Cup with reverent fear and tender love. She always received the communicants in her cell. They were constantly her very first and dearest guests. She would clip the griefs and illnesses of the visitors of hers at the very root, remembering that our sins are the root and beginning of our grief and sorrows.
One wonders that such a blessed Eldress lived in our midst, consoled so many suffering people, was clairvoyant and worked many miracles for such a long time, and yet not even all of the deeply faithful people visited this holy Eldress. Why was this?
We remember the Gospel words: "No prophet is accepted in his own country" (St. Luke 4:24). We recall Mother Rachel's own words also: "Only those whom the Mother of God herself sends come to me." She deeply believed in the continual Providence of God and the fruitful working of God's blessing I the hearts of people. Many of Mother Rachel's admirers, delighting in spiritual nourishment at her cell and being renewed not only in body but also in soul, would also see that she was quite advanced in years and seemed already to be melting away. We realized that she would soon abandon us, her spiritual children, and that we would be left without any obvious directors. We asked her "Mother, who do you appoint here in the obedience of eldership?" She answered some of those who asked this question thus: "You will have one, you will have a directress. She will be much higher and better than me, but now she is the sweeper. And many who are in the mire will be saved." At that time, some of the convent's sisters expected to see Nun Anfissa as Mother Rachel's successor. This Eldress was over ninety and it had already been more than fifty years since she had been outside of the monastic enclosure, but earlier she had been the doorkeeper for many years and had swept the path.
Mother Rachel loved to vanquish human pride, to be humble and to guard humility, wanting it to develop in her visitors even to the point of humility of wisdom, that highest of virtues.
Mother Rachel boldly affirmed that, "God's mercy is great to those who preserve even a single spark of faith in God and only a single drop of love. How insignificant our sins are before God's mercy! You see, this is only a handful of flour cast into the ocean. Just as this handful cannot drain the ocean, so it is also unable to dry up God's mercy to people, even if they are very great sinners. We Christians need to pray for everyone, and especially for those who have deviated from the Christian faith. The grace of God preserves the baptized as pure gold. Though he be covered with rubbish, filth and impurity, he is gold all the same. Suddenly peace of soul will be manifest in the man. It is pleasant for him, good, but he does not know from where such a peaceful breath of air came to him, and when it vanishes, he does not know to where it departed. This is the Holy Spirit; this grace of God consoles, soothes and comforts a man, often through the prayers for him by all of the Church or through the prayers of spiritual people. It is necessary to value the grace of God universally. It is necessary to pray and play fervently for everyone, and especially for those at enmity with you. Know, my dears, that prayer for enemies softens their hearts and it even happens that they become friends." Dear Mother Rachel concluded her instructions thus: "And how near God is to each of us, my dear! We only need to come to our senses, to sigh from the depths of our souls. We only need to direct our hearts to the Lord like placing a prism to the sun, and He will immediately be with us, to be reflected in us. You see how He stands at the door of our heart and knocks. Open your heart to the Lord."
Developing the thought about God's mercy, Mother Rachel explained for us the first verse in chapter eight of the Apocalypse (Revelation), saying that at the removal of the Seventh Seal, there was silence in heaven for the space of half an hour. Here in this very time, by God's will, salvation will be given to all who have not wandered from the Lord. Many people have a fragment of good and love, and if these people do not depart from the Lord, then they can hope in the great mercy of God and in their eternal salvation. This is how Mother Rachel consoled us. These words of Mother Rachel's were laid down as a healing balm for us who were often almost despairing of our salvation.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God